Where the Flock Did Marcela Go?
My thesis is a creating writing project that focuses on the fictional character Marcela from Cervantes’ Don Quijote. Marcela appears briefly in the funeral episode but exits the novel after delivering a powerful soliloquy and never reappears. The guests at Grisóstomo’s funeral claim that the deceased student-shepherd died of unrequited love and name Marcela as the culprit. Rather than applauding Marcela’s tenacity and ability to confront her hostile male peers during the funeral episode, literary critics continue to vilify her. Some of her most vocal faultfinders, notably all men, include: Diego Clemencín, Dominick Finello, and Renato Poggioli. These literary critics view Marcela’s lengthy soliloquy as self-serving, insensitive, and off-putting. It is worth noting that Marcela is a mirror image of Don Quijote. Both individuals defy societal expectations to pursue their passions: a pastoral lifestyle and knight-errantry. However, Don Quijote is eventually celebrated for his individuality and regarded as an iconic figure, while Marcela is branded as a “homicidal shepherdess”. The double standard is very apparent. Due to this residual resentment for Marcela, I feel compelled to dedicate an entire thesis to her and show readers her true, admirable character. In Part I of this thesis, I jokingly claim that after disappearing from the narrative, Marcela decided to stealthily follow Don Quijote and chronicle his adventures. I facetiously argue that Marcela is the true author of Don Quijote, although she sent her journal entries to her neighbor and close friend, Miguel de Cervantes, and requested that he edit and publish her work. I note that Cervantes repeatedly referenced an anonymous friend, “amigo,” in his Prologue and that this “amigo” is Marcela. The masculine gendering of the word is a calculated decision to protect her identity, Marcela is a fiercely private individual. Part II of my thesis takes place after the death of Don Quijote. Marcela drinks Don Quijote’s magic potion, BALSAMO DE FIERABRAS, and inexplicably becomes immortal. Due to sharing a juicy kiss with her pet sheep, Ewe Grant and Drew Baahrymore, they become immortal as well. Part II opens with Marcela explaining why she is sharing her story now after laying low for so long. Every chapter in Part II begins with a Wool Street Journal publication introducing the historic event that Marcela will subsequently narrate. Initially, Miguela de Cervantes, a relative of Miguel de Cervantes, introduces these articles. She is the Editor-in-chief of the Wool Street Journal. After the brief introductory article, Marcela then recounts her role in this historic moment. I also weave several female literary lions into the narrative: Giulia Bigolina, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Fonte, Rosenthal, etc., in an attempt to emulate Cervantes’ use of intertextuality and give women a central place in my text. Although Marcela’s narration ends with Part II, a new narrator emerges. This new narrator is Marcela’s pet sheep– Ewe Grant. In an attempt to emulate Cervantes’ use of satire, I have embedded social commentaries in my thesis. I demonstrate that women continue to be dismissed and disparaged. Marcela, an immortal woman who has lived 416 years, continues to meet misogynistic males who attempt to minimize her successes and vilify her. Ewe Grant inserts himself into the text, he endeavors to control the narrative and undermine Marcela’s story. Ewe Grant comments on portions of Marcela’s story and even attempts to correct or re-write these events. Before Ewe Grant enters the narrative, men exist on the periphery of the text– they are the minority. Women occupy a central role in my thesis. The inclusion of Ewe Grant allows me to explore the universal phenomenon of men interrupting women and the embedded belief of male privilege. Similar to Cervantes’ work, my thesis inspires free thought and encourages the reader to make sense of what he or she has read. This new narrative voice casts doubt on the authorial authenticity of Marcela. The reader must decide who to believe: the strong female voices that have dominated the text thus far, or this new thumbless narrator.